Twisted Pixel is in a unique position right now. They have previously released 2 games and they were a unique twist on their respective genres. In The Maw, Twisted Pixel created a game where the hardcore gamers can go to relax while simultaneously drawing in non-gamers with it’s cutesy style and simple-but-addicting puzzles. In ‘Splosion Man, Twisted Pixel redefines what it means to be a platforming game on this generation of consoles. In their third game, Twisted Pixel takes their signature brand of gameplay, art style, and humor and creates a game that quickly sucks you in and leaves you wanting more.
In Comic Jumper, you take control of Captain Smiley, a comic book hero. When his comic loses all viewership, it gets canceled.With no comic to speak of, Twisted Pixel purchases the rights to Captain Smiley and forces him to do guest work in other comics to return attention to his name. Smiley is joined by his sidekick Star, who is a talking star attached to Smiley’s costume. Also featured in the game are Gerda, the Oracle to Smiley’s Batman. She stays at the base, gives you information about your next comic, and lets you know when you are low on health (more on that later).
Every comic that smiley has to jump in to is unique and brilliantly designed. The first comic, Nanoc the Obliterator, is a parody of the Conan The Barbarian comics of old. The art direction, including Captain Smiley’s outfit for the comic, looks like it came straight out of a Frank Frazetta illustration. The writing for the level is spot on and makes constant pop culture references (Nanoc himself sounds like a certain Governator). The villain of the comic, The Puttmaster, wants to turn the land into a 180-hole mini-golf course and has bribed Nanoc with sweets and other delicious foods to stop him from fighting back. It’s up to Smiley to find Nanoc and stop the evil Puttmaster.
In the next comic, The Improbable Paper Pals, Captain Smiley jumps into a Silver age comic. This comic is the most well-written, as it’s both a satire as well as a parody. The Comic Obscenity Commission is the fictional group that approves that comics meet a certain standard on violence and other content. If the comic did not meet the standards, the publishers were fined and risked losing the seal of approval (Note: While the idea seems ridiculous, it is a parody of the Comics Code Authority which was the real-life version of this). You fight Mistress Ropes, a woman who is fighting for equal rights in the time before suffrage. Along the way you meet Paper Lad and the Origami Kid. Paper Lad is a piece of talking paper on the cusp of puberty and asks a series of rather uncomfortable questions to Captain Smiley. Origami Kid is based off of an unfortunate Japanese stereotype, complete with hyperbolous accent and ridiculous costume. While this may offend some people, it’s meant to satire what was socially acceptable at the time.
The final issue, XXX, is based off of the anime style of comics. The comic makes absolutely no sense, which is most people’s impression of anime. At one point, you are riding a farting unicorn named Pling-Pling through the skies, shooting rainbows and hearts at demon characters. When Pling-Pling dies, you do a ceremonial dance set to a hilarious children’s song. At another point in the comic, you are shooting your rainbow-gun at a giant floating child’s head, which unleashes snot boulders and shoots lasers out of it’s eyes at you. During the fight, Star even comments “This is amazing! I have absolutely no idea what is going on right now but I love it!” The final boss is two fairies which expand this giant plush animal and make it fight you. While this may seem crazy, it’s probably the most difficult fight in the entire game.
The gameplay is mostly side-scroller, with a few over-the-shoulder segments thrown in to spice things up. However, the gameplay is my only complaint about the game. Remember what I said before about Gerda telling you when you are low on health? Yea, she does that. A lot. The game is very difficult, but not to the point of rage-quitting. Your guns in the game do a good deal of damage, but are pretty useless when you don’t have them upgraded. Also, checkpoints in the game are not as spaced out as you would think. You may hit a check point back-to-back, but then again your last checkpoint may have been half-way back in the level.
Comic Jumper is an interesting game, combining brilliant voice acting, fantastic art design, and some of the funniest writing I’ve ever seen in a video game. While it may have its flaws, it shows a lot of promise. And with the option of DLC, this game belongs in the hands of every fan of comics, Twisted Pixel, or old-school Mega Man fans.